It is now upon us.
Free agency—the period where many superstars can cash in with the highest bidder and teams can overbid for backups.
This is one of the biggest periods for many NFL teams as we begin the march towards the April draft.
We have already seen a whirlwind of deals early today, with the Seahawks losing WR Nate Burleson to the Detroit Lions (it has really been that bad in Seattle, where the Lions look more appealing), where Chicago will try to land Chester Taylor and Julius Peppers, and where Karlos Dansby almost looks like he will be partying on South Beach come next season.
All in all, a relatively quiet opening round for free agency.
There are several teams that will try to use this period to improve on a team that was inches away from playoff action last season. Some will tweak their rosters, some will overhaul, and some with no realistic chance of doing anything at all next year will ignore everyone and spend gobs of money to appease their fanbases (Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, etc.).
There is one team that cannot afford to be in that category: the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks cannot live by the mantra that have had for three years under Tim Ruskell. In three offseasons, Ruskell believed his teams were "oh so close" to another Super Bowl berth. He wanted so desperately to believe that one stud signing in the offseason would propel his team back to the promised land.
He was almost right, twice.
The year after the Super Bowl, the biggest free agent splash was the freak known formally as Julian Peterson. The Seahawks rode his 10 sacks to an OT postseason loss to the Bears that left fans with a bitter taste, as the Seahawks almost closed out those pesky Bears behind Shaun Alexander's best playoff game as a Seahawk.
Then in 2007, Ruskell found another stud defensive player in Patrick Kerney. Kerney, although coming off major pectoral surgery, announced his presence when he almost decapitated Jeff Garcia in the home opener against Tampa Bay. He finished with 14.5 sacks, a runner-up finish in NFL defensive player of the year award voting, and a dominant game against the Redskins in the playoffs.
Finally, in 2009, Ruskell knew that he needed a big splash again after the team went 4-12 in 2008. He went and signed brash WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who turned out to be more talk than anything else. This led to another dismal season and Ruskell's departure.
If the Seahawks have learned anything from this, it's that free agency can kill you more than it helps you.
Many of these players are either gone or are cashing in giant checks that the Seahawks could use elsewhere, especially with much quality and fairly inexpensive OL help available.
The Seahawks need to build through the draft, plain and simple. This period shouldn't be about the biggest splash, but it should be to help solidify some needs and make the draft easier come April.
The Seahawks cannot afford to sign another Kerney; they cannot risk another Deion Branch.
They need to shy away from Peppers and Brandon Marshall. They need to get younger and stockpile draft choices.
I know that many Seahawks fans don't want to hear it, but we are rebuilding. If we can rebuild the right way, who knows how short a time it could take for us to be relevant again?
However, if we follow the model laid before us, we will be sitting in the same draft position for years to come.